Opening Bell: New financial "storm" warning, small firms seek more credit, Irish Ferries' profits grow

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The Bank of International Settlements (BIS) has warned that a financial "storm" is gathering as central banks run out of options and their influence dwindles.

The latest report from the institution which is know was the central bank of central banks says that there has been an "uneasy calm" but trouble is on the horizon as national banks run out of tools to use to stimulate economic activity.

"The tension between the markets’ tranquillity and the underlying economic vulnerabilities had to be resolved at some point. In the recent quarter, we may have been witnessing the beginning of its resolution," BIS chief Claudio Borio said, he added that this situation has been building for a long time.

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Revenues have increased at Irish Continental, the company that owns Irish Ferries, growing by 10.5% to €320.6m while passenger numbers increased by 2% to 1.68 million during 2015.

Operating profit increased by 74.9%, up from €32.7m to €57.2m as the company benefited from low fuel costs and favourable currency fluctuations.

ICG chairman John B McGurkian commented on the results, "Lower world fuel prices will continue to help performance although the recent weakening of sterling will affect the euro value of UK originating revenues.

"As a result of these factors, and the ongoing improvement in the economic outlook in our sphere of operations, we look forward, in the absence of unforeseen circumstances, to further growth in revenue and earnings for the financial year 2016."

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Small businesses in Ireland are seeking more credit from banks as the economy improves.

New figures from ISME show that demand for credit has increased steadily.

The group's Bank Watch Survey found that 41% of its members approached their banks for loans between December and February - that's up from 35% in the previous survey.

More loans are being approved too - 43% were declined, compared to 48% between September and November.

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Two separate sets of talks are scheduled to take place at the Workplace Relations Commission today.

Cadbury's workers will be discussing the outsourcing of jobs at their Dublin plant in Coolock.

While Luas staff are seeking pay rises of up to 53%.

Both companies have been hit with strike action, with Luas customers warned there'll be no services on St Patrick's Day or at Easter.